Call it crowd psychology, but being part of a group can make people as easy to amuse as it makes them ready to blow in lynch-mob situations. Even mildly funny jokes often elicit guffaws in front of a gathering.
A lot of what Mahendra Singh Dhoni said on Tuesday evening at a party organized by the series sponsors was essentially cold facts spoken in a largely serious tone. But in that packed hall, it had people in splits.
Perfectly regular statements were being LOL-ed, to borrow the social media language, while the LOL-worthy comments were being routinely ROFL- ed.
“I really like being here in New Zealand, even though the results here are often not quite to our liking,’’ he said.
“We get good support here, but there are so many of us Indians, we mostly get good support everywhere.’’
Encouraged, he did go on to make a decently funny statement when, speaking on the challenges of a Test match. To present his case he spoke about putting up with critics as one. ‘’The commentators,’’ he said, and there were a few in attendance, ‘’who might have called your shot perfect and appreciated your batting, would says two balls later if you get out, ‘oh, his leg was always falling across, his head was never still. He didn’t look in good touch.’’’
This time even the usually reserved Duncan Fletcher beamed.
This raucous laughter, for the moment, drowned out a different kind of sound which has been following the team since SA, and to which Dhoni subtly referred to in the above mentioned statement. It is the sound of the knives being sharpened.
And they will be out, most certainly, if India go on to extend their winless / losing streak at Eden Park in Auckland, where the first Test begins on Thursday. The magnitude of India’s task is evident from the fact that they haven’t won an away Test in close to three years, in which period they have lost 9 and drawn 1. During the last two months, they have lost seven matches across formats as against 0 wins.
Clearly, it will require a monumental effort to reverse this trend.
On the positive side, India were quite competitive in the Tests against South Africa. This Indian team has individuals who can pull it off, with bat and ball. It is certainly more settled than the ODI team who were whitewashed.
For inspiration, India need to look no further than one knock that was played on this ground last year. Matt Prior’s now-famous rearguard saw England avoid a defeat very narrowly. India will need to show a similar application. Or they can reflect on another heroic effort. It came 10 days ago when Ravindra Jadeja’s whirlwind half century nearly have India a win in the third ODI. It was a tie, however. Still, it was as close to victory as the Indians have been since hitting the road in December.
Often it is said, it doesn’t matter how you start the tour but how you end it. After all, he who laughs last laughs the loudest. Dhoni will like to be that man.
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